Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Despite Tough Loss, Vikings Remain Optimistic

After two close losses against non-conference opponents Suny Cortland and Central, the Augustana football team was looking for its first win of the season on Saturday evening against CCIW foe Carroll University.
After losing starting quarterback Zach Fuller to an injury late in the second quarter, backup quarterback Luke Bleyer rose to the occasion and put Augustana within striking distance up until the very end.
The Vikings took a 25-21 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but Carroll responded with a nine play, 75-yard drive, scoring the game-winning touchdown with just 49 seconds remaining in the game.
“I think we played hard, even when we continued to face adversity,” senior captain Riley Donald said after the game. “With Zach Fuller going down, I was really proud of how Luke Bleyer played and how we battled until the end. We were right there the whole time, but it just didn’t go our way in the end.”
Although the outcome did not go as planned, Donald has not lost sight of the bigger picture.
“We play football for the big moments of games like these, and we keep putting ourselves in them consistently, but just haven’t been able to finish so far,” Donald said. “There are no moral victories, but our team knows we are knocking on the door and are so close to breaking through.”
Steve Bell, who is now in his third year as head coach of the Augustana football program, has taken on a similar mindset to Donald’s.
Despite a slow start to the season, Bell believes he has seen improvement from previous years. His team has continually put themselves in a position to win, but it is now a matter of seizing those opportunities.
“Obviously it’s disappointing, but you have to be able to recover from that failure,” Bell said. “The message I tell the guys is that we’re an inch away, and I ask them how they are going to close that. There are plays to be made out there, and we’re just not making them. The guys just have to do their job, don’t hesitate and don’t question things, and go make the plays that need to be made.”
Even when things are not going according to plan, Bell has maintained the same outlook since his first days at Augie, and it is important to him to stay consistent and not stray from his plan.
Bell said. “I don’t see anything major that we need to change schematically or take a totally different approach to. We just need to trust what we’re doing and be good at what we’re doing, and we will find the results we want.”
After opening the season with three consecutive road games, Augie will finally have an opportunity to play in front of the hometown fans at Lindberg Stadium this upcoming Saturday.
The Vikings will go up against the Carthage College who have compiled a record of 2-1.
Emotions will be running high, but Donald is optimistic that he and his teammates will use that to their advantage.
“The key to getting back on track starts with every member of the team doing their job and not trying to do too much,” Donald said. “We have had a chance to win every game, but we just need to finish better as a team. And I feel confident our team will rally together and get focused for our first home game, which is big for us.”
The home opener, which also coincides with Family Weekend, is scheduled for a 6:00 pm start.

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Despite Tough Loss, Vikings Remain Optimistic